Finding God in Creation
"Finding God in Creation"
A service to mark St. David's Day live from the Cardiff Metropolitan Cathedral of St. David led by the Rev. Canon Peter Collins. Preacher: The Archbishop of Cardiff, the Most Rev. George Stack.
Director of Music: Dr. Dominic Neville.
Organist: Dr. David Neville.
Producer: Karen Walker.
Cardiff Metropolitan Cathedral of St David
PLEASE NOTE: This script cannot exactly reflect the transmission, as it was prepared before the service was broadcast. It may include editorial notes prepared by the producer, and minor spelling and other errors that were corrected before the radio broadcast.
It may contain gaps to be filled in at the time so that prayers may reflect the needs of the world, and changes may also be made at the last minute for timing reasons, or to reflect current events.
Opening anno from R4:
BBC Radio 4. The Archbishop of Cardiff, the Most Rev’d George Stack is the preacher for Sunday Worship this morning, which comes live from Cardiff’s Metropolitan Cathedral of St. David. The service is led by the Dean, the Rev’d Canon Peter Collins and begins with Charles Wood’s Anthem – Hail Gladdening Light.
ITEM 1 ANTHEM CHOIR / ORGAN DUR:
Charles Wood: Hail Gladdening Light
ITEM 2 WELCOME CANON PETER COLLINS
Croeso. Welcome to Saint David’s Cathedral at the heart of the Capital City of Wales. Saint David, Dewi Sant, the great bishop of the sixth century, is our National Patron here in Wales and you join us the day after our celebration of St. David’s Day. We’ve extended our patronal festivities and so we’re still wearing either leak or daffodil. We’re surrounded by an impressive array of daffodils and are therefore basking in a vivid hue of yellow light. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times that our patron saint is – amongst other things – celebrated for his environmental credentials! Drawing our inspiration from four stained glass windows located in the Cathedral Chancel depicting the life of Saint David, we’ll be reflecting upon our relationship with creation and the mystery of God’s presence within it.
Conscious that Saint David calls us to “Be joyful and keep the Faith”, the Choir will now lead us in offering praise to God with our first hymn, ‘Let the whole creation cry, glory to the Lord on high’.
ITEM 3 HYMN 1 CHOIR / ORGAN DUR:
Let the whole creation cry: Alleluia!
ITEM 4 LINK 1: CANON PETER COLLINS
The population of Wales is just over three million, but each year this number is swollen by the influx of visitors who come to enjoy the magnificent scenery, the rich cultural heritage and the warm hospitality. Perhaps we should be careful before mentioning our climate! Many are eager to climb the rugged mountains of Snowdonia or trek across the undulating glacial ridges of the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains. Others chose to visit the now green valleys of the South which were once crow black with coal mining and industrialisation. Nearly three million people have walked at least a section of the Wales Coastal Path since it was formally opened in 2012. Many of these were drawn to Pembrokeshire, where nestles the tiny yet beautiful City of Saint David’s – the seat of the ancient diocese known as Mynyw or Menevia. However, Wales is renowned not only for its physical beauty but also for being a land of saints, mystics and poets. We can identify Saint David as being the most famous but he is joined by many others across the centuries. With a confident and joyful faith, let us pray.
ITEM 5 OPENING PRAYER CANON PETER.
O God, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings of peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation. You were pleased to graciously bestow upon your Bishop Saint David of Wales the virtue of wisdom and the gift of eloquence and made him an example of prayer and pastoral zeal, grant that, through his intercession your Church may ever prosper and render you joyful praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
ITEM 6 LINK 2: CANON PETER
Following the departure of the Roman Legions when Christian faith was all but lost in most other parts of these islands, it endured here in Wales. Long before Pope Saint Gregory the Great sent the Benedictine Monk, Augustine, to convert the English, there is ample evidence to demonstrate how monastic life here in Wales was having an evangelising influence as far as Brittany, Cornwall and Ireland. The spirituality that emerges from what we commonly call Celtic Christianity is suffused with a delight in the wonders of creation. The Christian soul is called to become a true steward of creation. It’s our responsibility to grow in our communion with the Creator through the glories of his creation.
But we don’t always fulfil this responsibility. Our sinfulness doesn’t only cast a shadow over our own lives but it also leaves a social imprint. The manner in which we conduct ourselves can have ramifications well beyond our immediate environment. We open our hearts to God’s mercy with William Byrd’s Kyrie from the Mass for Five Voices.
ITEM 7 KYRIE CHOIR / ORGAN DUR:
William Byrd: Kyrie from the Mass for Five Voices
ITEM 8 LINK 3 CANON PETER
The account of creation from chapter two of the Book of Genesis reminds us that we are created from the very earth we tread and although we are formed from the dust it is God’s own breath that fills us with life.
Having created us, God does not abandon us to the wild – “… the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he put the man he had formed” (Gen.2:8). Perhaps as never before in history do we need now to realise the implications of our responsibility to care for the earth. We must not plunder the resources of our environment, rather we must nurture the fragile natural order. We are all too familiar with the devastating power of flood and the ravaging scourge of famine. We need to be attentive to the fragility that surrounds us. There are growing pains to be experienced en route to maturity. We listen now to the words of Saint Paul as he describes the pain involved in the growth of spiritual awareness.
ITEM 9 READING 1
A reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans, Chapter 8, verses 19-25.
For the whole of creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope were we saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
The Word of the Lord.
R/Thanks be to God.
ITEM 10 PSALM 8. CHOIR / ORGAN (UNACCOMPANIED)
ITEM 11 LINK 4 CANON PETER
The responsibility to care for creation, to nurture and sustain its proper and viable growth, is found at the very heart of the Christian gospel. The dimensions of ‘Faith’ and the ingredients of ‘Ecology’ are bound together. It’s crucial to our very existence that we all perceive the necessity to confront those rampant forces that would tempt us to strip our own planet and its population of their proper physical, social and commercial equilibrium. Pope Francis has often spoken during this first year of his ministry of the exploitative nature of our consumerist society, yet we also know that it’s these very engines of commerce that have lifted millions out of poverty perhaps more than anything else. Nonetheless, in many parts of the world the natural habitat is being destroyed at an alarming rate and we are contaminating the environment in such a way that the impact of our actions will reverberate not only across the span of our own lifetime but across the span of future centuries. Time and again, Jesus warned against the dangers of attachment to wealth, possessions and power. The greed of the few can easily impoverish the multitude. If we’re attentive to the teaching of the Lord we’ll face a severe challenge but we will also learn how to resist the desolation of despair for he will always provide us with graceful encouragement.
In our Gospel Reading, we continue on from where Jesus, talking to a crowd of followers, spoke of the parable of the rich fool. He warned them against greed, that mankind’s life doesn’t consist in the abundance of possessions.
ITEM 12 GOSPEL READING
A reading from the Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 12, verses 22-30.
Then he said to his disciples, ‘That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it. For life means more than food, and the body more than clothing. Think of the ravens. They do not sow or reap; they have no storehouses and no barns; yet God feeds them. And how much more are you worth than the birds. Can any of you, for all his worrying, add a single cubit to his span of life? If the smallest things, therefore, are outside your control, why worry about the rest? Think of the flowers; they never have to spin or weave; yet, I assure you, not even Solomon in all his glory was robed like one of these. Now if that is how God clothes the grass in the field which is there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, how much more will he look after you, you men of little faith? But you must not set your hearts on things to eat and things to drink; Nor must you worry.’
The Gospel of the Lord.
R/Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
ITEM 13 HYMN 2 CHOIR / ORGAN DUR:
All creatures of our God and King
ITEM 14 HOMILY ARCHBISHOP GEORGE STACK.
Having moved to Wales when I became Archbishop of Cardiff three years ago, one of my great joys was to discover the richness and variety of its scenery and changing landscape. Its high mountains and green valleys certainly speak to me of the grandeur and majesty of God. The silence of hills can whisper the breath of God to all who wish to hear. The floods of recent months show the power and force of water which has both the capacity to refresh and nurture growth as well as the power of destruction. The wind of a gale can either invigorate the air we breathe, or it can become so severe that it threatens life and limb. The Celtic Church was, of course, familiar with the power of these wild elements. However, our Celtic forebears weren’t as well protected as we are today. It’s no accident that St. David was known as “Aquaticus” – the man of water. This nickname described his ability to stand in cold water for long periods of time which tested not just his physical endurance against the elements, but also his faith in God as he battled against temptation.
At different times and in different places I’m sure many of us have had the chance to stand and admire beautiful scenery and awesome mountains whether in our own land or further afield. The wonder of the natural world is ever popular in television programs, photographs, paintings and poems. They offer us great opportunities to think about the dramatic and wondrous nature of our planet, our place within it and, as Canon Peter said earlier, our responsibility to grow in communion with the Creator through the glories of his creation. But, beautiful though it is, finding God in creation isn’t necessarily easy.
The foot of the mountains seem to emanate a sense of strength and stability, of strong foundations. But sometimes, fog, cloud and mist cover the summit of the mountains here in Wales and, for me, trying to see the shrouded peaks, hidden from the human eye, illustrates our search to understand the transcendent, the unknown, the mystery of God.
We know the summit is there, but actually seeing it gives us a sense of satisfaction and completeness. Experiencing its absence can give us a sense of wonder, awe and mystery. Those different emotions illustrate for me the fact that things which we think are clear can become more inaccessible, even more mysterious, the more we examine them.
Just by looking at ourselves in the mirror each morning we know “That’s me”. Yet how often we see ourselves in a photo and ask “Is that really me”. We see ourselves in a way different to how others see us. We think we know our own thoughts, but so often when we try to put those thoughts into words we find we can’t express them properly. Often we say the wrong thing, or at the very least the words don’t come out the way we want them to.
So the inner landscapes of our lives are sometimes confused and mysterious as well. If we find it difficult to understand ourselves, how much more difficult it is to understand others.
If that is our human experience, we mustn’t be surprised at our difficulty at times in understanding or describing God. We try, of course. We say prayers. We sing hymns. We proclaim the Creed. We write books of theology. Some of the greatest works of music and religious art have tried to capture the mystery of God. But think of the experience of Moses as he stood before the Burning Bush. “Who shall I say you are “he asked. “Say I AM has called you”. God cannot be defined by any name we choose, he cannot be contained by any description, even by any explanation.
The great twentieth century Welsh poet R.S. Thomas explored the paradox of the presence and the absence of God in the midst of creation. One commentator on his work writes: “Thomas finds … God’s reflection, his shadow and his echo existing in the Welsh hills. God’s influence there is both a presence and an absence, and at times an absence that is like a presence.”
Another Thomas, Doubting Thomas, refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead until he was able to put his fingers into the wounds of Christ made by the nails. Jesus reveals his wounds and tells Thomas: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” R.S. Thomas explores this reality in his poem ‘In Church’.
It’s followed by the anthem “Ubi Caritas et Amor” in a setting by Maurice Durufle in Latin. Where is it possible to find God? In charity and love.
ITEM 15 POEM: IN CHURCH
ITEM 16 MUSIC CHOIR / ORGAN DUR:
Maurice Durufle: Ube Caritas
ITEM 17 INTERCESSIONS
Filled with a confident and joyful faith, we offer our prayers of intercession to God our Father.
We pray for this land of Wales.
Conscious of our rich Christian heritage may the people of Wales rejoice in the splendour of creation and find spiritual renewal through the majestic vision of faith.
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.
We pray for the Universal Christian Family.
In preparation for the Season of Lent may we sift out the impurities of those temptations that threaten us in body, mind and spirit.
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.
We pray in defence of the delicate equilibrium of our ecology.
As stewards of creation may we care for the earth and its peoples so as to ensure a stable and balanced environment for our children’s children.
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.
We pray for those, near and far, who are afflicted by flood, famine or the pestilence of warfare and injustice. We remember especially the people of Syria and Egypt.
In service of the common good may we strive to create a deeper sense of community, both local and global.
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.
We pray also for the People of the Ukraine.
As they strive to reinforce their democracy and diversity of ethnicity and culture may they resist the temptations of violence and be granted all necessary support from the international community.
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.
ITEM 18 LORD’S PRAYER
With Christ as our Teacher and Saviour, we find the courage to say:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
ITEM 19 HYMN CHOIR / ORGAN DUR:
King of glory, King of peace,
ITEM 20 CONCLUDING PRAYER CANON PETER.
Let us pray.
We pray, almighty God, that we may learn through the example of your Bishop Saint David to seek you above all things and to become worthy stewards of your glorious and wonderful creation. May we bear witness in this world to the gospel of your Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the communion of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
ITEM 21 BLESSING ARCHBISHOP GEORGE DUR
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.
May almighty God always keep every adversity far from you and in his kindness pour out upon you the gifts of his blessing.
May God keep your hearts attentive to his words, that they may be filled with everlasting gladness.
And so, may you always understand what is good and right, and be found ever hastening along the path of God’s commands, made coheirs with the citizens of heaven.
BLESSING TWO DUR:
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May He let His face shine upon you and show you His mercy.
May He turn His countenance towards you and give you peace.
BLESSING THREE DUR:
And may the blessing of almighty God, the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, come down on you and remain with you for ever. AMEN
ITEM 22 ORGAN PLAYOUT DR. DAVID NEVILLE
CLOSING ANNO R4
This morning’s Sunday Worship came live from the Cardiff Metropolitan Cathedral of St. David in Cardiff. The preacher was the Archbishop of Cardiff, the Most Rev’d George Stack and the service was led by the Rev’d Canon Peter Collins. The Master of the Choristers was Dominic Neville and the Organist Dr. David Neville. The producer was Karen Walker.
Next week’s Sunday Worship comes live from Lichfield Cathedral - the first of Radio 4’s series ‘Inside Lent’, with Bishop Stephen Oliver.
And a link to resources for individuals and groups, specially written by Bishop Stephen for Radio 4’s Lent services, can be found on the Sunday Worship web page.